Our Stories of Miscarriage
Edited by Rachel Faldet and Karen Fitton
Fairview Press 1997
Reviewed by Amanda Edwards
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 2, March - April 1998, p. 56
Our Stories of Miscarriage is a collection of stories written by several mothers and fathers. They tell of their grief following one or more miscarriages, expressing themselves through factual accounts, stories and poems. Some have waited many years before writing about their experience, and many seem to have found some healing by writing.
Some mothers speak of a sisterhood in losing a child. Just as a girl joins the ranks of women when she enters puberty and a woman joins the ranks of mothers when her child is placed in her arms, so mothers who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy feel united "by our buds of hope and sorrow." Some mothers fear others' well-meant condolences, only to be amazed at the compassionate response of women who share the stories of their own miscarriages. Miscarriages are very common, but mothers receive little comfort from the statistics.
All the parents, no matter how early they lost their baby, treasure the life of that baby-"That sure looked like a person on the ultrasound screen." Perhaps this shows that not only do babies need their mothers but that mothers need their babies. "I no longer underestimate the bond between a mother and her baby, no matter how tiny, in her womb." The events and feelings that surround miscarriages are described vividly- each baby is remembered and cherished by those events and feelings.
The needs of mothers to mourn and for others to accept their feelings rather than deny them comes up constantly throughout the book. An American mother who miscarried her second baby while in England found the experience vastly different from her first miscarriage. Unless parents request otherwise, the babies are cremated and buried in a Garden of Remembrance. A Remembrance service is held every year, and a Remembrance Book is kept in the hospital chapel. "It was moving to us that life, even in its earliest stages, would be so revered."
Some mothers found that a ritual or ceremony helped them in their grief. I was particularly moved by the ceremony planned by one mother who had lost three babies. She filled a special casket with three different colored pairs of booties, three bears holding hearts and the names of the babies, and a family photograph. Three balloons with the names of the babies written on them were released, and three carnations were preserved in memory of the babies. This mother was then able to say goodbye to her dead children, and to keep their memory alive.
The book includes two stories that speak of losing the opportunity to breastfeed, and a poem titled "Nursing the Unborn." At the back of the book, the editor has included a short paragraph about each contributor. Although the stories showed that no child can "replace" another, I did rejoice to read of those who had gone on to bear a live child.
The cover of the book shows two photographs of young women, one taken recently, the other taken perhaps 100 years ago. Both photographs have been torn in two-representing mothers separating unwillingly from their babies. I found this very appropriate as for me it represented a link between women now and in the past. My grandmother miscarried twins the 1920s and I have miscarried two children in the l990s.
Reading Our Stories of Miscarriage may help a mother to heal from such loss. While many tears may be shed during the reading, it is comforting to read that other mothers have shared similar feelings. Mothers who have lost infants through a miscarriage know that their babies were special and irreplaceable. And all these mothers have felt less alone when they were able to share their common grief.
Although several books have been written about miscarriages, I have never found another that has moved me or that has been as healing as Our Stories of Miscarriage.